Review of radiofrequency

Radiofrequency neurotomy (also called radiofrequency ablation or lesioning) is a minimally invasive procedure that can provide lasting relief to those suffering from joint pain. In fact, multiple clinical studies show that radiofrequency neurotomy significantly reduces pain severity and frequency for 1 to 2 years in the majority of patients. Radiofrequency neurotomy involves applying heat to certain nerve pathways to “shut off” the transmission of pain signals to the brain. It is performed on an outpatient basis and requires only local anesthetic and mild sedation, alleviating the possible complications of open surgery and general anesthesia. It has a high success rate low complication rate.

Which Conditions Are Treated With Radiofrequency Ablation?

RFA can be used to help patients with chronic (long-lasting). its effectiveness for

  • Abdominal cutaneous nerve entrapment syndrome
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Chronic knee pain
  • Chronic pain following inguinal herniotomy
  • Chronic perineal pain
  • Coccydynia
  • Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
  • Discogenic pain
  • Face and head pain
  • Facet and sacroiliac joint arthropathy
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Glossopharyngeal neuralgia
  • Headache
  • Hemiplegic shoulder pain
  • Idiopathic axonal polyneuropathy
  • Idiopathic supraorbital neuralgia
  • Infraorbital neuralgia
  • Inguinal neuralgia
  • Intercostobrachial neuralgia in post-mastectomy pain syndrome
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Low back pain
  • Lower extremity neuralgia
  • Lumbo-sacral radicular syndrome
  • Meralgia paresthetica
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Metatarso-phalangeal joint pain
  • Morton’s neuroma
  • Myofascial pain syndrome of gastrocnemius / the trapezius muscle
  • Myofascial or neuromatous pain
  • Neck pain
  • Occipital neuralgia
  • Ophthalmic neuralgia
  • Orchalgia
  • Osteoarthritis of the knee
  • Thoracic pain
  • Trapezio-metacarpal joint pain
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Urinary urgency and hesitancy
  • Vulvodynia
  • Zygapophyseal joint pain.


What is the Benefits of Radiofrequency ablation?

  • Pain relief for up to 2 years.
  • Significant, longer lasting pain relief and less side effect compared to steroid injections.
  • Low complication and morbidity rates.
  • Appreciable pain relief compared to surgery: Nearly more than half of back pain sufferers are not helped by surgery.
  • Greater range of motion.
  • Lower use of analgesics.
  • Improved quality of life.
  • Short recovery time.


How many types of Radiofrequency Ablation?

There are two types:

  • Thermal Radiofrequency in which the temperature of the tissue up to 80C.
  • Pulsed Radiofrequency in which the temperature of the tissue not more than 45C.


How Long Does Pain Relief From Radiofrequency Ablation Last?

The degree of pain relief varies, depending on the cause and location of the pain. Pain relief from RFA can last from six months to 2 years and in some cases, relief can last for years. More than 70% of patients treated with RFA experience pain relief.


Is Radiofrequency Ablation Safe?

RFA has proven to be a safe and effective way to treat some forms of pain. It also is generally well-tolerated, with very few associated complications. There is aslight risk of infection and bleeding at the insertion site. Your doctor can advise you about your particular risk.


What Happens During Radiofrequency Ablation?

You will meet with a doctor for an evaluation. If radiofrequency ablation is recommended, a doctor will explain the procedure in detail, including possible complications and side effects.

The doctor will also answer any questions you may have.

An intravenous (IV) line may be placed in a vein in your arm before the procedure and a local anesthetic and mild sedative may be used to reduce any discomfort during RFA. You may be awake during the process to aid in properly assessing the procedure. Ask your doctor about specifics beforehand.

After the local anesthesia (you will be awake but will not feel any pain) has been given, the doctor will insert a small needle into the general area where you are experiencing pain. Using X-ray or ultrasound, your doctor will guide the needle to the exact target area. A microelectrode is then inserted through the needle to begin the stimulation process.

During the procedure, your doctor will ask if you are able to feel a tingling sensation. The object of the stimulation process is to help the doctor determine if the electrode is in the optimal area for treatment.

Once the needle and electrode placement are verified, a small radiofrequency current is sent through the electrode into the surrounding tissue, causing the tissue to heat. You should not feel discomfort during the heating portion of the procedure.


Can I Resume My Normal Activities After Radiofrequency Ablation?

You will have a few restrictions immediately following radiofrequency ablation:

  • Do not drive or operate machinery for at least 24 hours after the procedure.
  • You may resume your normal diet.Do not engage in any strenuous activity for the first 24 hours after the procedure.

Do not take a bath for one to two days after the procedure; you may shower.

You may remove any bandages in the evening before going to bed.

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